Opinion: Hawks should hold onto John Collins as trade deadline approaches

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John Collins has been the subject of hundreds of trade rumors over the last few seasons, and it feels the Hawks might finally pull the trigger on a trade prior to this year’s deadline. Collins is amid the worst season of his career, and it’s overwhelmingly apparent that he doesn’t quite fit into the new-look Hawks offense like the organization originally hoped. With two ball dominant guards and a center on the floor that is constantly clogging the paint, Collins has turned primarily into a spot up shooter, something that hasn’t treated him well this season.

During the 2019-2020 season, Collins added the three-point jumper to his game and became one of the better marksmen from the power forward position in the league. Over three seasons, he shot nearly 39% from behind the arc on 3.4 attempts per game. However, that number has plummeted this season. On 3.2 attempts per game, Collins is only shooting 24.4% from three. Because of that, he’s averaging just 13.3 points per contest — the lowest mark of his career by a wide margin since his rookie season.

I understand why the Hawks are thinking about moving Collins. They are a good but not great team that is in win-now mode following the acquisition of Dejounte Murray. They need to be evaluating all of their options when it comes to upgrading the roster for a playoff push. However, I don’t see a trade involving Collins that will ultimately make this team better now or in the future.

The Hawks power forward’s value has never been lower. There are rumors that Atlanta isn’t looking for a first-round pick in return for his services any longer. Most hypothetical trades look more like a salary dump rather than an attempt to improve the team.

I know it’s the nature of the business, and the Hawks have already proven they care way too much about their bottom line by dealing Kevin Huerter in the offseason, but moving Collins just to shed salary would send a terrible message to the team. That’s the kind of move that could result in everything being blown up.

Dejounte Murray will be a free agent following next season. How are the Hawks going to possibly convince him to stay if they’ve already shown they aren’t fully committed to winning? By trading Collins to save money, the team is going to be worse this season and probably next as well. That would likely result in Murray’s exit via trade or free agency, and the writing would be on the wall for Trae Young. He could very well ask for a trade out of Atlanta, and at that point, I’m not sure how the Hawks wouldn’t oblige. The roster would be barren, and most of their draft picks are elsewhere. They would have little choice but to enter a total rebuild, not even a decade after their last complete rebuild.

Collins may not be having his best season, and he might not fit seamlessly into the Hawks offense, but trading him right now for scraps seems like gross mismanagement. The best course of action is to hold onto him and hope he can regain his shooting form. Positive regression should eventually come. Not only would that keep the Hawks competitive, but it would also rebuild some of Collins’ value, and they could explore trading him again next offseason. Unless the Hawks find a deal that they believe will make them a better team right now, moving Collins could end up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Photo: Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire

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